Until recently, it was difficult to find a decent breakfast in Budapest because most locals eat breakfast at home. Thanks to the influx of tourists, however, several restaurants have opened where trendy interior designs and chic waitstaffs go hand in hand with a well-prepared plate of eggs Benedict. Or avocado toast, in case you were wondering.
In New York or London, this hip breakfast restaurant would be just another fashionable crowd-pleaser: the type of place where tattooed and bow-tied servers scurry around a sleek interior complete with vintage light bulbs and lots of greenery, and fresh R&B tunes set the musical background. In Budapest, many places have tried to emulate this concept, but STIKA, this pocket-sized restaurant in District 7, is the first to get it right. .
HILDA is one of the restaurants lining downtown's increasingly fashionable Nádor Street. The area has come to life as a growing number of tourists and international students from the nearby Central European University pass through. With a perfect curb appeal, you will notice HILDA's Instagrammable interior even before entering the space. An oversized stained glass mosaic covers one of the walls in its entirety, and the bar is studded with rows of dark blue, glazed Zsolnay ceramic tiles, the same brand that decorates the lobby of the Four Seasons around the corner from here..
Börze is a sleek downtown restaurant serving uncomplicated traditional Hungarian food from early morning until midnight, seven days a week. Börze's moniker is a hat-tip to the enormous, 1907 building across the street that used to be the Budapest Stock and Commodity Exchange. With red banquettes and a chic interior designed to the minute detail, Börze recalls a Keith McNally restaurant. Börze is a 2017 offshoot of the owners of Menza, and like its sister restaurant, it's a well-oiled machine with a professional waitstaff.
Szimply is a tiny breakfast-all-day restaurant in the cobble-stoned courtyard of a pre-war downtown building. Thanks to The New York Times, which featured Szimply (Budapest is #50), it's next to impossible to find an open table at this closet-sized breakfast nook. They serve pricey, on-trend breakfast foods such as the generously packed avocado toast topped with tarragon, kohlrabi, and roasted garlic (€11). There are also a range of vegetable and fruit juices, including an acai kombucha (€3).
Curious where the top 1% of Buda residents hang out? Wonder no more. The owners of Déryné Bistro were ahead of the curve in 2007 when they opened this sleek bistro featuring a Balthazar-like interior straight out of the Keith McNally playbook. Back then, Déryné was a novelty in Budapest because this type of hip-but-classy restaurants hadn't existed before. .
À la Maison Grand is a chic downtown café in Budapest, occupying the ground floor of a 1906 art nouveau building (take a glance at the oversized glass mosaic perched atop the building). A fashionable, tourist-heavy crowd tends to flock here for the breakfast-all-day and brunch offerings that include reliably-prepared classics like croque madame (€5), eggs Florentine (€7), a range of waffles, and also zeitgesty items such as acai bowl and avocado toast (€7). The only letdowns are the the undersized and forlorn-looking English (€10) and Hungarian breakfast plates (€12). .
For the past decade, Akácfa Street in Budapest's party district was only known for Fogas ruin bar. That has changed with the opening of the wildly popular Mazel Tov restaurant, and also Hops Beer Bar, one of the best craft beer bars in the city. And now there's also Kaptafa, a hip all-day breakfast restaurant. .
Opened almost 20 years ago, Két Szerecsen is a chic restaurant between the stately Andrássy Avenue and the Jewish Quarter’s main artery, Király Street, occupying a precious piece of no man’s land. The bustling space is crammed with tables that receive plenty of natural light through the oversized windows..
For the longest time, Budapest had only a few places specializing in breakfast food, even though we know what a difference a plate of creamy scrambled eggs can make to start the day off on the right foot. Part of this gaping void was filled in 2014 with the opening of Zoska. Zoska is a breakfast-all-day counter service restaurant nestled in a quite downtown backstreet, featuring a gleaming, shabby-chic interior. Their breakfast foods span from ham and eggs (€4) to frankfurters (€4), granola (€3), and bundás kenyér (€3), a Hungarian version of the French toast.
Csendes Társ is an outdoor-only café set along Károlyi kert, a charming public park in Budapest with colorful flower beds and manicured lawns. The area feels like an island of peace within the hustle and bustle of downtown. I enjoy coming here for a late breakfast (they open at 10 a.m.), or for drinks in the evenings when the neighborhood is quiet and colorful lanterns provide intimate lighting..
Escape the noisy downtown street and enter through the yellow ceramic tiles into the 19th century courtyard of Fekete Café. The marble well in the center of the tranquil courtyard is one of those turn-of-the-20th-century Budapest surprises that hide behind many sooty facades. Weather permitting, enjoy your morning coffee in the open-air courtyard..
Sarki Fűszeres is a tiny café and specialty store in Újlipótváros, a middle-class neighborhood in Budapest with a unique character. Sarki Fűszeres is best enjoyed for breakfast during the warm weather months by the outdoor terrace under a canopy of greens. The breakfast offerings include expertly-prepared ham & eggs, English breakfast, frankfurters, and meat and cheese platters. Inside, they sell high-end charcuterie, cheese, and olives, among other things.
Gerlóczy is a cute café and restaurant tucked away in an unusually quiet pocket of Budapest's downtown. The tiny plaza outside Gerlóczy is surrounded by elegant pre-war buildings and conjures images of a Paris backstreet. Perhaps this is why the interior, sporting a high ceiling, small round tables, and leather banquettes, feels like a French bistro. Gerlóczy's expansive outdoor terrace is especially enjoyable in the warm months (whenever the local municipality isn't using this precious space for construction equipment storage).
In the late aughts, Fruccola was one of the pioneers of fast casual dining in Budapest with a special focus on healthy foods and salads. They have since become a recognized brand and a mini chain with three locations across the city. Besides salads, smoothies, and fresh fruit and vegetable juices, Fruccola also makes excellent breakfast omelets, both with salmon and spinach & goat cheese (€5). On weekdays, they serve a seasonal, two-course lunch prix fixe (€6) that's heavy on vegetables, but not strictly vegetarian.
TÁBLA is a small breakfast-only restaurant located in Budapest's trendy Jewish quarter. It's one of the two restaurants run by chef Gábor Fehér, a local young gun (the other, next door to TÁBLA, is ESCA, a fine dining studio restaurant). The designed space features white brick walls, sleek wooden tables, and the type of couch often found in the lobbies of boutique hotels. The floor-to-ceiling window swings open in the summertime..
Liberté is a chic breakfast restaurant located in an elite section of Budapest's downtown peppered with banks and near the Parliament building. The swanky interior design marries a high-end American diner with a French bistro. Liberté's menu includes on-trend international breakfast dishes and with Hungarian classics, meaning that you could very well pair a Hungarian goulash soup (€6) with an avocado toast (€6) or eggs Benedict (€6). .
This cute little café with rustic furnishings isn't to be confused with Szimpla Kert, the world-famous ruin bar, which is a few doors down from here and run by the same owners. Szimpla Háztáji specializes in breakfast food as well as organic fruit juices, home-made syrups, and cakes. The mantra is fresh-fresh-fresh: all ingredients come from local farmers whose produce you will be able to find at Szimpla Kert's farmer's market on Sunday mornings. .
Although Budapest Baristas is primarily a specialty café, it’s their breakfast-all-day offerings that make it worthwhile to visit them. Bagels rarely appear on Budapest breakfast menus, so I automatically go for them when they do. After all, who doesn’t like to bite through a warm cream cheese bagel with a dense and chewy interior? The default is a sesame bagel, and toppings include the classic cream cheese, and also lox, the signature Jewish-American variety with smoked salmon. .